How to make Venice Theriac - the Teriaca Andromachus


THE FORMULA OF THERIAC - the Teriaca Andromachus

The formula and ingredients of Venice treacle (Theriac). The secret knowledge how to make a Venice theriac or Teriaca Andromachus


Marcello Fumagalli *


History and admirable virtues of the drug oldest: the Teriaca Andromachus


If ever there was an antidote for excellence, with magical virtues and able to solve any kind of evil, this was the Theriac, Teriaca or Triaca. Originally, its main use was to fight poisons and in particular poisons injected to the bite of "poisonous fairs" as the viper. On the origin of 'electuary and his name, there are no doubts. History and legend intertwine only when you try to understand how it came to the Romans the miraculous recipe.

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The name comes from the greek word "therion" used to call the viper and or poisonous animals in general, while the composition, from the world famous antidote "Mitridato" used and invented by the great King Mithridates of Pontus.

According to the story told by the oldest Roman doctors, then reported by pharmacists in their pharmacopoeias, Mithridates is served every day of his antidote to combat obsessive fear of being poisoned to the point that you assuefò (mithridatism). When the Roman legions of Pompey won his army, the King, deciding to choose death to avoid falling into their hands, could not use the poison, but had to resort to the sword.

Mithridates .....

"Drew the sword from the helmet a powerful poison that bevutolo together with two daughters, Nicias & Mitridatia, who were with him, not puote die, it made him any harm, for he long inured to remedy this Theriaca her. And he was force wanting to get out of life get killed by Bithio his soldier. that is not it happened already to the two young people who were deprived of a lot of security, however, that being the poison too pernicious evil & caderono he suffered death. "2

Pompey became aware of the fact sought, among the spoils of war, the recipe of Mithridates and found ...

"Forcieretti full of evidence, comments & descriptions of the antidote which he then transferred in Latin by his freedman man will Leuco excellent grammar in" 3.

The doctors of ancient Rome were so aware of the remedy.

It is up to Andromachus the Elder, doctor of Nero, perfecting the recipe Mitridato which he thought to add the viper flesh sure that the use of "fair poisonous", would have increased the utility, the force and virtues dell'antidoto . Thus was born the Teriaca Magna or Teriaca Andromachus.

The composition underwent significant changes over time, and the first to intervene with the replacements was the doctor Avicenna 4 philosopher who added thirteen simple togliendone other.
In the oldest manuscripts to the less ancient antidotaries and monographs apologetic, theriac has always been exalted as universal remedy, but its success, among thousand mysteries of its composition and preparation, exploded in the sixteenth century.

Throughout the century the "spices" of Venice, Bologna, Naples and Rome was prepared in large quantities and soon became an important voice for the economy of the town and especially for that of Venice with spices Three Towers, and at the Ostrich Head gold, meet the demands from all over Italy and abroad. The Venetian Teriaca seemed to be the best of all.

All simple drugs such as Long pepper, the Phù (valerian), Opium, the Cinnamon (cinnamon), the Zaffrano (saffron), the Mirrha, the Opobalsamo (Balsamo Eastern) Wine (Malvasia) were chosen with great care by apothecaries Venetians also favored by the fact that the Serenissima, in those days, was the capital of the trade with the East, and this allowed ease when availing and using drugs whose oriental fragrance and gave the rarity prepared a superior quality. even the viper flesh, expertly prepared, was used speciale.Si vipers Euganean Hills that had to be captured at a specific time of the year and did not have to be male or pregnant.

The preparation of Teriaca, in Venice, was made public in taking almost a tone of celebration. Apothecaries were operating in the presence of the "Ministers of Justice and de 'Gentlemen of the College of Chartered Surveyors art of Pharmacy and the help of many noble apparatuses" and followed a ritual studied in particolari.Chi operated by chopping and stirring was dressed white jacket and red pants in order to better show the public that attended. The period of the year dedicated to the event fell in May as some components reached, only at that time, the perfect state of use. The respect of astral influences also had a weight in the preparation being able to donate, according to the beliefs of the time, special faculties to remedy.

Preparing public was invented by chemists that, in doing so, they intended to take precautions for their financial commitment. The ritual required that the drugs were shown and without touching the public, enhancing the quality and authenticity. Apothecaries so hoped to convince potential users to buy, if they had had the need, that specific theriac subtracting, to many charlatans who prepared and propagated teriache falsified, composed of adulterated drugs and little cost, potential customers.

The art and preparatory theriac Venetian masters drew apothecary from all parts of Italy and of this he has witness in the history of the "most famous hospitals."

In an ancient monastery of Camaldoli administrative document can be read in a note, what was spent by the triaca speziere to buy "up the fair Vinegia" while in a recipe of the eighteenth century, always kept in the pharmacy of the monastery, states that the triaca used by the monks was prepared according to the Venetian school.

Between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century even the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan sent to Venice, to learn the art of preparatory Teriaca, his teacher speziere GB Cucchi which became, then, the first to produce it and spread it in Milan giving a decent profit all'Ospedale5.

The druggist Venetian named Giorgio Melichio, known throughout Europe and master of "Spetiaria the Ostrich in Venice", in his work "in Avertimenti compositioni de 'medicines for use of spetiaria" (1595) 6, in order to teach their colleagues in the art of composing medicines, describes the preparation in the following way:

"I will say, however, that much we use it nell'inclita City Vinegia, garden and publica piaza across Europe: adorned with so experts & Spetiali experts who have years ratione to mondo.Dirò hora just long must one avertito in Theriaca made by me in Vinegia this year ordinatamente.Fur prepared all simplici necessarij for the composition as well as of the Theriaca Mithridato and such marks choice furno put in beautiful vases and stored in luoco publico & very ornate for three continuous days to effect sian spettaculo to and all that could each wanting to examine the above things: & on the fourth day, the squad Excellent Priori, and Doctors of Directors so as to spetiali, and made diligent examines de ingredients, furno with much diligence removed in weight according to the description available so that you do not take it if you do not co'l right weight varying ponto more or less. After they removed things to pound grossly and all were put in a large bowl so well together meschiate routes and then departed in six mortari & you gave to pound because things s'unissero wet with dry That it might not s'attacassero if well in the mortar of the ontuosità mirrha the Anco did. First fur bruised them trochisci of vipers; imperochè when I am well prepared is their substance similar to glue fleshing difficult to crush them: then add the pepper longo and shortly after the cassia, the cinamono and broken..please rimetton in the basin. Then it breaks pounding the irios, cost, Gentiana, the aristologia, the centaurio, the pentasilon, the meo, the phu, the stecado, the squinanto & the aspic; which is broken mischiatano with others in the basin. Below you stomp them seeds of turnips, the pettosello, the anisi, Seseli, fennel, thlaspi, ammi, dauco & the amomo. Et routes furo aggionte with the other; avertendo that for each order of things that you added in the mortar pounding a little mirrha to such things that in treading the spetie not s'attenessero to the bottom of the mortar imperochè the ontuosità of mirrha binds things eshalabili. After you tamp the Scordio, burning bush, horehound, Calamento, polio, chamepiteo, folio & hiperico. The gum and incense is pestaranno otherwise the mortar sun, lest not s'attaccassero with other spetie, as we have seen in others with experience. Li trochisci shillings, and hedicroi together just sian pests and united at any other spetie. Roses & zaffrano sian put a little in the sun & after plague & gionte at any other.

The reupontico both pesto & aggionte with the other. The land is trite Lemnia effortlessly, agaric is screwed to Tamiso & so you let us in the dust. The tires saran well bruised & after there aggionga vin malvatico & are for one night and the day sequent & infused with proper portion of said wine sian past the sieve, the like also you will do in the juice and Liquiritia & de l 'hipocistis: the acatia you triturarà with them seeds that it is put in with them grind them, percioche the Oriental is not dry & arid that easily pestrarà with them seeds."

The description continues with a list of the different Grinding, sieving and mixing of other valuable drugs previously reduced to a fine powder, and concludes with the admission of the same apothecary, on the replacements, made with substitutes, some components such as 'opobalsamo with the oil of nutmeg, the carpobalsamo with juniper berries, the amomo with amomo racemose ensuring the theriac composed by him in the year 1573 did not replace any other ingredient and it hopes to find again later little time and without badar in spending, those drugs that with diligent care had to replace.

The master speziere then describes the method of preservation dell'antidoto and its relative container to be a ....

"vitreato vessel, which is able, the fourth part of more that is not the antidote to every day & there meschierà in & in the first days after the fact is loose discovered the vase for meza hora of the day & after it tien tight."

The last lines are for himself and for a consideration relating to the cost of the preparation:

"And because of the compositione so precioso antidote I understood very great effort & expense, but if I can not very star amirato, how some of the sell for a small price and I can not judge another which together with the antidote still sell the soul in Sathan. "

A special chapter in 'illustration of the preparation is dedicated to Trocisci of vipera7 that were prepared well in advance of the date fixed for the public demonstration. They were dry and ferment in the right not to spoil the antidote. The trocisci were prepared with the meat of the viper cleaned entrails and private head and tail. The viper, boiled in fresh spring water, salted and flavored with dill, after being drained from his broth was mixed with dry bread finely crushed and finally handmade in rounded shapes and dried in the shade. Vipers employed, as already mentioned, could not be captured at any time, but in a specific period that is, a few weeks after awakening winter and not, for example, during the summer otherwise the antidote, prepared with them, would provide too much thirst to those who had made use of. Even vipers taken before entering hibernation they had the right qualities to be used as too fat and therefore not appropriate for the composition of trocisci. Gradually the vipers of the Euganean Hills were exterminated all, apothecaries Venetians were forced to turn to the first of the Hills of Vicenza and Verona, then to those of Friuli and finally to those breeding.

As claimed by the physician and chemist Joseph Donzelli Neapolitan philosopher, in his work "Theatre Pharmaceutical Dogmatic and spagyric" 8 of 1763, the Teriaca was also prepared chemically. The Donzelli describes the method stating that the chemical preparation is as effective as the traditional one, since they are maintained without change, all the components and their respective doses. For the Teriaca Chemicals is used the essential parts extracted with water screw separating them from each subject fecciosa whose function was only to increase the volume of the medicament. The cost of chemical remedy was very high and many judged that the antidote chemical could not be sold easily.

Theriac continued to be prepared in Bologna until 1796, in Venice at the apothecary Head Golden until the middle of 1800 and in Naples up to 1906.

The miraculous recipe Teriaca Andromachus

Were various recipes Teriaca indicated by doctors and apothecaries in different times, but one that was identified to be the true and only Andromachus the Elder is one described by Galen that entrusted to the poet Damocrate the task of transcribing it in verse iambici10 to maintain just the proportion of doses of all drugs simple who entered. In fact in many pharmacopoeias of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the preparation is reported as Teriaca of Damocrate.

Bartholomew Maranta 11, distinguished physician and chemist Neapolitan (1572) in his famous work dedicated to Teriaca and Mitridato "Della Theriaca et Mithridato of" states that many are "those special and doctors who take away the recipe from certain barbarians, below which are the most errors that the words "and adds that he reported the recipe is one that Andromachus the Old administered several times successfully Emperor Nero and Galen handed down with the help of the verses of Damocrate.

The sixty components, omitting wine and honey, which in this case entering the remedy as excipients, are divided into six groups of which: the first consists of an element, the second four, the third eight, the fourth sixteen, the twenty-four fifth and the sixth of eight.

The division into six groups and the number of simple, coming in each group, had a correlation with the weight of each single drug in order to obtain: for four groups, the weight of one pound for each, one half and one sixth of part of the pound which, added to the half pounds and the weight of the wine and honey, that were added, would form another pound. All this to prevent errors and to assure anyone who wanted to prepare the antidote the freedom to compose in quantity multiple or submultiple, compared to the original weight, without the risk of nasty weigh fractions of a pound.

Many of the herbal drugs, used in the preparation, in the Western world were not found either because the habitats of species requiring special growing conditions, and because unknown. This imposed the apothecaries finding substitutes they retain the therapeutic power original.

The practice of substitution was common not only for the preparation of treacle, but in general for all the remedies that were prepared. It was allowed only in cases of absolute impossibility of supply and, absolutely prohibited, if the purpose was only to speculate on costs. Permission led many "spetiali speculators" to mask, behind the inability of supply, substitutions oddest creating drugs that had no therapeutic effect. This prompted the monks Speziari first, and then those trees, to create in the immediate vicinity of their "pharmacy" or in universities, botanical gardens or "gardens of the simple" where they were, with great care, cultivated plant species more difficult to find.

The realization of the vegetable gardens cultivation reduced the spread of counterfeit drugs plants especially those rare or hard to find.

Still Maranta Bartholomew, in chapter VII of his work, denounces the improper use of fake drugs to the point that if Andromachus .....

"Fusse been alive, ricontrandola harebbe not recognized" and "harebbe been able to come to judgment, querelandoli of insults and falsehoods who havesse willed to his opinion."

Bartolomeo Maranta declares that at the time of Galen was not used any substitute "but all were the real" and thereby encourages "the Special to 'what for most is committed to the health humana" to provide, before attempting to prepare the Teriaca , of all the "simple" that you can have and not just those that in Italy you can not have, but also those that in Italy you can get, "but you can outside haver best."

An idea of how common was the replacement of the simple Teriaca is also found nell'antidotario, the "spetiale Parmesan" Jerome Calestani, "Of osservationi" (1584) which shows the attempts of many notables who sought medical and Speziari compose the Teriaca replacing some of the drugs with other available more or less cost. The replacement did not escape even the trocisci viper that had as a substitute for the tormentilla plant into a powder and mixed with pyrethrum and alum was shown to remove the torment of toothache.

Virtues and uses of theriac

In an apology to Teriaca, written between 1595 and 1605, the physician and philosopher Horace Guarguanti by Soncino in addressing illustrious and reverend Ludovico Taverna Bishop of Lodi and Apostolic Nuncio to the